protonmail.ch

Protonmail is a web-based email provider, a la Gmail, based in Switzerland, on Swiss servers, run by a Swiss company, offering encrypted email – Protonmail themselves cannot decrypt your email.

Their web-app does not work in the Android browser for Android 4.4. You can log in, but there is no list of emails in whatever folder it is you select, so you cannot read email. Additionally, if you try to compose an email, adding an attachment causes you to be logged out (the email is not saved as a draft, so it is lost).

The web-app does not display *at all* in Orfox, or in Tor Browser on Linux.

They offer a .onion URL, but this does not load in Tor Browser on Linux.

The desktop versions of the site (on Android) also do not work.

I have just come home from the observation deck of The Shard, a skyscraper in London.

I booked at 6pm ticket, to see the city at night, and it is *incredible*, Breath-taking. Astounding.

After about fifteen minutes of walking around in a daze, I took a photo or two and wanted to email them a particular and very special friend.

The Shard offer wifi, but block port 587, so I could not use my normal email client.

I then spent 30 minutes trying to get Protonmail to work, and failed, and gave up.

On The Shard site, they say there is no time limit; you can spend as long as you like, once you’re in.

What they really mean is *until they close*, and they close at *7pm*, so if you have the 6pm ticket, you actually have *one hour*.

Just as I finally gave up with Protonmail, accepting – as I had to – that would not be able to share this moment as I dearly wished, the observation deck closed.

This is my last night in London – I leave tomorrow – and I will not be back for many years, if then.

I cannot really put in words my sense of disappointment and loss, both of being unable to share the moment and of my visit there instead of being a truly astounding memory, is rather the bitter taste of a idiotic struggle to try to make an on-line service work.

There are a couple of lessons from this. I think one of them is never to try to make something work; it never, or so infrequently it is absolutely not the worthwhile choice, works. Software is too complex. If it works first time, then fine, but if it does not, there are SO many ways it can be broken, and complexly broken, that it is a 99.5% loosing game to try to fix things. You WILL fail, and you will NOT be able to do as you wished, and you will ALSO have wasted a bunch of time and effort. It is better just to fail right away, and save the cost of the time and effort failing to fix the problem.

With regard to Protonmail, the problem is that email is a core facility, and if I use a service, I will be using it for important things, and so depend upon it working; and if then it in many cases does not work, I am most definitely taking a risk that my plans will be dislocated.